Now that the Grand Old Party has control of the Senate and House, I really thought it would prove to voters that it was capable of governing. Here was a long-sought chance to present a legitimate alternative to the Affordable Health Care Act, one that corrected all of its real and imagined shortcomings. And here was an opportunity to formulate an immigration policy to counter the president's use of executive orders to remedy this long-standing problem. And, lest we forget, here was the perfect time to fulfill House Speaker John Boehner's promise to focus on bills that create jobs.
Instead, what do we get? First Boehner announced that the House Benghazi investigation will continue, despite the previous six investigations' failure to find any culpable wrong-doing.
Then there was the knee-jerk vote to overturn Obamacare for the 56th time in four years; again, with no plan to take its place to service the nearly 12 million who have enrolled. All of these people would be left without health coverage, unlike those selfishly voting to deny them.
When it comes to immigration, Republicans have decided to fold their cards because of tea party opposition. I guess there is some justice in this. The party so unwilling to compromise with Democrats is now experiencing a raw demonstration of Newton's third law of motion within its own ranks, "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." The "Party of No" lives.
Republicans called the Keystone XL Pipeline Act a jobs bill, but when Democrats challenged this and tried to add amendments requiring that the pipeline be constructed with American steel and that most of the oil be kept here for refining, they were voted down. I guess the jobs the GOP boasted about were overseas.
Then Republicans inserted anti-abortion language in a human trafficking bill to paralyze its chance of passage. Any sane person would grease the skids to create a federal fund to assist victims of trafficking and support law enforcement tools to stymie it. So why slow progress with a controversial social issue like abortion?
Moving on to international affairs, the GOP again beat the drums of war with Boehner's behind-the-back-of-the-president invitation to Netanyahu to address Congress. This inept and protocol-smashing event was meant to thwart the Iranian nuclear talks. Then freshman Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ariz., lent aid and comfort to Iran's hard-liners by addressing a letter to the country's leaders, co-signed by 46 other senators. This additional attempt, supported by Israeli lobbyists, to sabotage delicate negotiations bordered on treason. What's next, a letter to Kim Jong-un or Vladimir Putin telling them that Congress really runs the show in Washington and to ignore Obama and our State Department?
All of the previous events drove me bonkers. Then on March 17 Republicans released their budget. Predictably, it cuts taxes on the wealthy and multinational corporations, hoping that this time trickle-down economics would finally work. And how do they plan to make-up for the resulting budget shortfall? Well, that's easy. They'll target those less fortunate by slashing funding for Medicare, Medicaid, nursing homes, food stamps, Head Start, Pell grants for college and the poorest of our schools.
The new budget did include a job creation measure in the form of $40 billion more next year for the Pentagon. I guess Raytheon will be bringing additional people on-board to increase production of Tomahawk cruise missiles. I wish these new employees well in their commute, but they should be wary while traveling our roads and bridges. The U.S. infrastructure continues to crumble at an alarming rate, and we are just one bridge collapse away from our next national crisis. This is an area where we should be creating jobs and improving America instead of adding to the military's already bloated budget.
Lastly, under the guise of "regulatory reform" to help government and businesses avoid costly procedures, the GOP budget plans to gut the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law. Do they have mass amnesia about what triggered the great recession in 2007?
And so, given the opportunity to shine and prove its ability to govern, the GOP has so far bungled it. Some of the missteps have been Keystone Cops laughable, but still lead me to despair. Our country has many real problems and desperately needs a loyal opposition with fresh ideas and the resolve to enable them. Instead, we get retreads of failed policies and investigations and grandstanding stunts in foreign affairs. I'm disappointed, but not surprised.
Frank Batavick writes from Westminster. His column appears Fridays. Email him at email@example.com.